Having broadband at home is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity. We shop online, pay our bills, search for new homes, book holidays, manage finances, pay our TV licence or council tax, and much more.
But these aren't the only reasons to get internet at home; as well as making it easier to pay bills, you can also keep in touch with family, browse the internet, send and receive emails, talk to people on Skype, and stay in contact with the world at large.
There are all kinds of good reasons to get home broadband, but some elderly people may be reluctant. They might have concerns about online safety or cost, or might be put off by the apparent complexity.
If you're elderly and don't yet have broadband, or you want to know how to choose a broadband deal for an elderly friend or relative, this guide can help set you on the right path.
Are there specific broadband deals for pensioners?
Some broadband providers offer special broadband deals for the elderly. These can deliver savings or provide useful extras, but not all of them. Sometimes, other offers not related to age make more financial sense, so shopping around is a must.
Just because a service is advertised as being suitable for seniors, doesn’t mean there aren’t better offers elsewhere! In fact, quite often your best bet is a normal, cheap broadband deal (particularly if you would like to use the internet frequently, or for things such as Skype).
If you're ready to buy now, here are some of the best cheap broadband deals currently available:
Alternatively, here are a few of the deals aimed at pensioners:
BT Home Essentials
We're often asked, "do pensioners get BT Broadband for free?". Unfortunately, it is not free. However, BT does offer a cheap package called BT Home Essentials. This is a fibre optic BT deal aimed at people on benefits, including income support and pensions credit. While not specifically for pensioners, it is worth looking at if you need a very cheap internet service; read our guide to broadband on benefits for more information.
Virgin Media Talk Protected
Virgin Media Talk Protected is the company’s commitment to freezing line rental for the elderly or disabled. It means that the price you pay when you sign up is the price you will pay throughout your time with the company. The deal also includes free calls too.
POP Telecom Broadband for the Elderly
You may not have heard of POP Telecom before, but they have been around a little while and offer a special deal for older users. The POP Broadband for the Elderly plan includes broadband and line rental, free Wi-Fi router, and a price guarantee.
Other broadband providers may also have special packages for senior users. But as mentioned above, they may not always offer the best deal available so shop around before you buy!
How do I compare broadband deals?
If this is your first time comparing broadband deals, it may initially seem daunting. It shouldn’t put you off though. Switching broadband is much like switching energy providers or shopping around for cheap insurance. You assess what you need, consider what features are most important to you, then find a deal that fits your requirements at the right price.
In brief, here is how to compare broadband deals:
- Assess your needs by seeing how long you spend on the phone each month, and how long you spend online or think you might spend online. Also, consider how the connection is going to be used; web browsing, social media and email don't need a fast connection, but activities like streaming video (Netflix, iPlayer, etc.) or transferring files are a lot more demanding. Take into account the number of users too, as the more people sharing the broadband, the faster it will need to be. Read our guide to broadband speed for more help.
- Use Broadband Genie's broadband checker. Enter your postcode into the table to filter by location, and look through all the deals. Use your needs from Step 1 to see which is the best deal for you.
- Click on a deal and follow the registration steps.
- Wait for your broadband to go live!
Once you have signed up for a deal, the provider should confirm by email and give you an estimated date for your service to begin. If an engineer needs to visit, they will confirm a date and time for that too. Typically, the lead is around two weeks from the date you signed up to the date your connection goes live. You can learn more about the activation process in our dedicated broadband installation guide.
Here are a few things to look out for when shopping around for broadband...
Older users can sometimes need a little extra help setting everything up and the customer services representatives of your broadband provider are there to do just that. If you think you may need that extra help, look to see the main operating hours of the customer service helpline. They need to be there when you need them most!
Price is essential when choosing any product or service, and that’s no different when it comes to broadband. Assessing whether the broadband package is good value for money is another matter. Once you know how often you will use your phone and broadband, you can use that to decide whether any deal is a good one or not.
Some broadband contracts are for one month, some for 12 months and some for 18 or 24. Generally, the longer the agreement, the lower the monthly charge. Choose a contract length to suit you. Longer contracts may be cheaper, but you are then locked in, and early cancellation can be expensive.
If you use the telephone regularly having inclusive calls with your broadband deal is important as it can save a significant amount of money. Many will offer free evening and weekend calls as part of the package, but some may charge on a pay-as-you-use basis. You can also opt to upgrade to anytime or international calling. If you use your phone a lot, make sure to check what you get for your money!
Which are the best broadband providers for pensioners?
In selecting the best broadband providers for pensioners, we looked at our Home Broadband Survey. If a company scored well for value, customer service and quality, we regard it as a suitable provider for older users.
- Direct Save Telecom. One of the highest-rated providers, it was second overall and had the best scores for value and customer service. DST is also good value, with packages available from under £20.
- Zen Internet. The winner of our overall best broadband award had the best ratings for trust and recommendations, as well as very high scores for value and customer service.
- Origin Broadband. This great value budget provider had excellent scores in almost all categories. Most importantly, it did very well for value, customer care, and trust.
Of course, these are just a few of the providers available. Check out our broadband deals and use our comparison tools to help you find a package that suits. The highest-rated provider may not necessarily be the cheapest so balance this with your priorities to help make a decision.
What about line rental?
Even though you may be looking for an internet connection, most broadband packages include line rental for a landline; this is usually because the landline is required for internet access.
If you would prefer broadband without a phone line, you can get this from Virgin Media. If you can't get or don't want Virgin Media, and you don't plan on making voice calls, then a broadband only deal can give you internet with a landline but without inclusive calls.
If the phone is regularly used an inclusive calling package is recommended as you avoid charges for individual calls. Many broadband deals include inclusive calls; others offer it as a premium extra. If you don’t want those inclusive calls when you sign up but want them later, you can often add them to your account whenever you like. Inclusive calls are useful if you use the phone a lot or like to keep your bill predictable. If you make phone calls that fall under the inclusive call allowance, your monthly bill should always be the same!
How is broadband installed?
We mentioned earlier that after you have signed up for broadband, a couple of things will happen. You should receive an email confirmation, and an engineer may be scheduled to visit. The process goes something like this:
- You sign up for your broadband contract and pay the first month plus any setup costs.
- You receive an email confirmation telling you what you have bought.
- You will be contacted within a few days to schedule your broadband activation.
- An engineer may visit to install your connection (this is not always necessary).
- Your internet should be live on the date quoted by your provider.
An engineer may visit to connect you to the internet. In some cases, they might need to come into your house. The company should tell you well in advance and arrange a suitable time. Even if the engineer doesn’t need to work in your house, you will need to be home to sign a form to say they have connected you and everything works.
Don’t sign anything until the engineer has shown you that your internet is live and you have tested it. It could take some time for them to return if it doesn’t work correctly!
If an engineer is not required, you will be expected to do a DIY install. All this should involve is plugging in a Wi-Fi router (and perhaps a separate modem) on the day the broadband is activated. If you're not sure about this, the customer service team will be able to guide you through it.